In conversation with Iekeliene Stange
#DenimForEarth: Artist/Model Iekeliene Stange makes costumes out of denim waste from G-Star RAW.
Imaginary forest-creatures, that’s what you get when you ask Iekeliene Stange (international catwalk model, muse of Vivienne Westwood and Marc Jacobs, and cover star of e.g. Numéro) to create a costume out of denim remnants from G-Star RAW, in the context of Earth Day (22nd of April).
Denimbrand G-Star RAW, forerunner of sustainability in the denim industry, shares the same vision as creative agency The Visionary Lab. Hence, it embraced an innovative route to bring attention to the issue of textile-waste by forging a positive statement: ‘waste isn’t waste until you waste it’. In line with this, The Visionary Lab invited Iekeliene – and five other designers and visual artists – to create unique, one-off designs from denim scraps from G-Star RAW. The idea? Re-imagine, re-cut, re-create. The resulting designs form a powerful, arty and positive statement with an underlying message: waste isn’t waste until you waste it.
What is your vision on the current fashion industry?
It goes so quickly, so fast. The result is a disposable culture with big retail chains, and collections that follow one another in rapid pace. That’s a shame. I miss the attention. The hand-made. The craftmanship. If it were up to me fashion would be more individualistic and less focused on the mass. I love it when things, clothing, have character. Uniqueness.
Is that something you look for yourself, when you go shopping for clothes?
Actually, fashion doesn’t interest me so much. To me, it’s just a form of expression. I love it when clothes amuse me. That’s how I chose what I wear: what makes me feel good today?
Have you always been concerned with the wellbeing of the Earth, or did it come with the years?
I think I’ve always been conscious of the fact that we have to take care of our planet. But, I have to admit, I’m not perfect and sometimes I do use materials that are not exactly right. However, I try to limit that and make conscious choices.
For #DenimForEarth you created two designs out of denim waste. The message: waste isn’t waste until you waste it. What can you say about these creations?
It was fun to work with denim. I love to re-use and it’s something I do often, but normally I work with materials I find on the streets or in thrift stores. I would describe my creative process as very organic; I create in the moment. So, when I get my hands on something, I set my fantasy free and see what happens. My inner-world is very colorful, so the creations I usually make tend to be colorful as well. But as I worked with denim, the result is a whole different version of my inner-world. I find that interesting!
You are part of Splitter Splatter, can you explain what Splitter Splatter is?
Splitter Splatter is a platform, a collective, that wants to show people that everybody can create his or her own world. We want to encourage people to play more and think outside the box. The concept of #DenimforEarth is not very different: use your imagination, your creativity.
If you had a giant bullhorn and you could shout out for the whole world to hear, what would be your message?
Oof, well, I’d probably make up some absurd nonsensical language?
But then no one would understand you…
True, but that strikes me as pretty funny.
And if there was anything you could change about the fashion industry? What would that be?
Then I’d make it less ‘fast’, less fleeting. I like craftsmanship and detail. Wouldn’t it be lovely if, from now on, people would only buy those pieces that make them go ‘Yes. I want this. This will make me happy for the next ten years.’, instead of people buying a hundred things only to toss them the next month.
On Earth Day, what makes you stop and think in particular? what really goes straight to your heart?
That people reconnect with nature. That everything around us has soul, people seem to have lost that idea. When you’re more connected to your environment, then you treat it differently.
What can you tell us about the idea behind your ‘forest studio’ from the video?
That was the first image that came to mind. In my imagination, that’s where my creatures are made. You know, I work very intuitively. I spend a lot of time in nature and it has a cleansing effect. Sometimes it feels like something takes a hold of me and creates things for me. Like some kind of funny beings that stop by and go like, hey, we’re gonna make this and that now. I truly believe that’s connected to nature.
Paulijn van der Pot